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  1. #1
    Because I thought I could ks1g's Avatar
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    Another selecting a folder thread

    It looks like my job may have me travelling once a month for several days to the LA area (Long Beach, Anaheim, Orange County). A folder looks like an interesting option to keep biking on these (and other) trips and I'm encouraged by the postings here on how they ride and how you folks are using them.

    Requirements in rough order of importance:
    1 Fit me well! (my road bike is a 50cm frame Trek carbon frankenbike with 525 mm top tube; no I'm not interested in the SnS coupler route right now) for rides of up to about 30-40 miles/2-3 hrs.
    2 Ride and handle well on roads, paved trails/paths; ideally close to a road bike feel. Non-technical packed gravel or dirt is possible but less likely; I would only change tires.
    3 When folded (some dissassembly is fine) fits in an airline-legal suitcase (rules out the Dahon Airporter bag but something like BF's samsonite is possible)
    4 Suitable for light commuting (up to 10 miles 1-way) on relatively flat terrain
    5 Bike+bus commuting may become a need in the fall; however I may be able to use buses with front racks allowing my regular commuter, so quick-fold isn't mandatory
    6 Since I have little experience with folders, minimizing the initial investment is desirable (I can always upgrade if I decide I like it)

    One of the nicer and rather eclectic LBS handles folders (and 'bents, trikes, and other bikes for people with exceptional tastes) and I had time today for some quick rides in their parking lot on 3 folders: a Bike Friday Pocket Tourer, a Dahon Helios (think it was a P8), and a Dahon Helios SL. I also saw (but didn't ride) a Friday Wolrd Tourist (nice bike but way over my current hoped-for budget!). No time to see how they fold up, just quick spins in the lot. All are 8 speed bikes with twist grip shifters, rear derailluers, and flat handlebars.

    Pocket Tourer: Felt nicest of the 3, (wider tires may have helped), stable (forgot to try hands-off). Handlebar reach felt about right. Wondering how it would work with a drop bar. Noted the braze-ons for racks. Does BF make different quills, or a straight quill that accomodates "standard" stems and handlebars?

    Dahon Helios 8: Ok, this would be a nice starter. Felt a bit twitchier than the BF. Would need to play with ways of adjusting handlebar reach and might replace the saddle. Compared to an old (and overpriced) Dahon Stowaway I saw, LIGHT and much better made! Didn't feel like it was stable enough for hands-off. Felt the handlebar stem flexing under aggressive pedaling. Annoying but then there's that LONG lever arm. Least expensive of the 3.

    Dahon Helios SL: This bike wants to MOVE! Fastest and most responsive; was wondering how I'd manage on the local club rides with it. Did I mention it feels fast? Twitchier than the Helios 8, but in a more race-horse like way (if that makes ANY sense) and there was the same handlebar stem flex I experienced with the other Dahon. Flat bar is OK (carbon? looks it) but was again wondering about drop bars. Saddle looks like a special mount - how does anyone try other saddles? And of course the most expensive of the 3.

    I need to keep looking, find time for a proper test ride, especially need to see how much time I will really have to ride on trips so I can decide if I want to spend this kind of money on yet another bike. Questions for the group:

    1. Recommendations for other models, makes to look at. One option might be a Dahon Boardwalk D7 as a cheap starter and upgrade once I'm "hooked". I haven't figured out the equivalent starter in the BF line.

    2. For the Dahon owners - how quickly, in the real world, does it take to fold up your bikes? If you travel by air with them, can a 20" bike be successfully packed (disassembly is OK) in a suitcase within airline checked baggage limits?

    3. For the BF owners, if you travel with your bikes, how involved is the packing/unpacking? I suspect that the BF bikes are not intended for multi-mode commuting where quick-folding is necessary.

    4. For forum readers in the LA area - recommendations for folder dealers in/near Anaheim, Long Beach, Orange County, or LA south of LAX to Torrance?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I have the packing for my BF down to about 12 minutes. I think in the beginning, I was nervous and trying to be all correct and technical about it. Now, I can throw it in there and have it shut in 12 minutes. I don't rush, but I try to move quickly.

    My BF Pocket Rocket feels like a road ride, and I'm liking it. I do a lot of long rides on it, and I enjoy spending time on the bike.

    You can get the standard BF with the straight handlebars and standard components. It is cheaper. It starts to add up as you add in more and more extras. I added in a lot of extras, so I paid more, plus mine is custom made too, so more money for that.

    You can also go to the BF website and look through the used BF bikes for sale. They have great deals, so you probably can snatch one up cheaper.

    Oh, I added my road bike handlebars in. I love riding in the drops- it's a sweet ride.

    Contact BF to find the dealer in your area.

    Koffee

  3. #3
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    Here's my take on your dilemma:

    Dahon's and Bike Friday's are very different in both utility and purpose. You'll find the BF more customizable (in terms of handlebar choices, reach, and because they're custom built, saddle position, frame dimension, crank length, etc.) and more convincingly adept as a racing style machine (especially if you buy the 'Air' models). Where the Dahon excels is in the ability to do a quick fold, price, weight and with the larger range of different models, adaptability to any given situation (even the odd ones). A Dahon is more adept as an all-around, everyday bicycle than a BF, in my opinion.

    The Dahon excels in another way most don't consider when they're buying a folder for the first time and that's in value stability: You'll be able to sell an almost new Dahon for very close to the new price should you decide to go in another direction. Dahon's do this trick better than any other of the choices you've listed (Brompton's, 17" wheeled cycles also hold their value extremely well but are probably less suited to the riding style you've proposed. Mezzo bikes are another smaller wheeled option that'll probably sell easily, but they're so new, no one I know has even seen one yet).

    Options to consider: Airnimal is a UK based company that makes seperable folders (like the BF's) utilizing 24" wheels. From what I've read on the folding society site, these ride the most like a 700c bike. Another option you could consider is having titanium coupler fittings mounted to your 700c bike and using it as an airline transportable portable (I forget the name of the company that does this but I'm sure someone will chime in with the name). Giant makes a midrange priced model called the Halfway that its owners rave about, though it's not really adaptable as a racer-style machine. Peregrine /PBW is another company that you might familiarize yourself with as they offer at least two models that you'll find apt to your requirements.

    Cutting to the chase, If I were you, I'd have a good look at the Dahon Helios SL and its stem options (there are a few) and also, I'd look at used BF's and see if there was something that would work for you. Either of these options should fill your request well and leave you the opportunity to sell at close to what you'll have paid and, in the end, to be sure that you've chosen well.

    The stem flex you speak of on the Dahon, I believe, is more handlebar mount related than stem or frame, related. My Dahon, a 2004 Jetstream XP, had almost no front end flex I could detect, until I mounted a road stem to it and now I feel some flexion. Seems to me that this is coming from where the bar is mounted to the stem head and tightening that area very well (or possibly shimming it with some foil) might fix the problem. The handlebar, BTW, is a true carbon bar and is one of the lightest available on the market (I think it weighs around 110g. Compare this to other MTB bars and you'll find the carbon versions are usually in the 160g range). Getting a longer reach I've found, is key to getting faster times on a Dahon and, since my stem 'modification' (I did mine the home fashioned way, something I'm sure is not recommended...), the bike is definately performing better/faster. A longer reach though, you'll want to know, does make the bike feel a bit more 'twitchy': A non-problem that's easy to get used too, but something you've mentioned and so I've noted nonetheless.

    I'll go out on a limb, speaking as the owner of not only a Dahon, but a Birdy as well, and say that the Helios SL is probably what you'll end up with. I think that these modern Dahon's are really well done and as all around bicycles, bikes that ride well and fold well, are close to unbeatable designs. I say this though, as someone whom has never ridden a Bike Friday. I have seen a few of them 'in the flesh' and like you, wanted something that would fill more than one function well. (If anyone from BF reads this, I'm in NYC and would really love to ride/try a tricked out Air Friday. I might just buy it if I love it, although I'm not sure where I'd get the money quickly...)

    Good luck kid! When you do buy your folder, please post your impressions to the 'Hitchiker's guide to the folding bicycle' thread on this board.

    DG1

    Below is a photo of my Dahon, pre stem modification (I'll try to get a post-stem photo for you all tommorrow)

  4. #4
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    One more thing I forgot. In terms of gearing, you'll have to buy a far heavier Dahon to get a really wide gear range on A Dahon, because it lacks a useful front derailleur mount. If you need a very wide range, BF, Airnimal, PBW are probably going to suit your riding a bit better.

    DG1

  5. #5
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    If you're thinking the BF doesn't quick fold, you're mistaken. The BF quick folds in seconds. I can easily turn the handlebars, unscrew the clamp on the bottom of the seat tube and fold the seat down, then fold the bike under. It's only seconds, and you can use it to quickly chuck your bike in a car, on the train, etc. But for TRAVEL, I think the BF would win hands down. It's made to travel, folds into its own suitcase, and although it takes me about 12 minutes to fold up and put away, I can still get it to my destination with no damage, have it checked so I don't pay for extra shipping, and be satisfied that nothing is going to happen to it in the shipping process.

    Not like I'm trying to put down the Dahon, but I think they're zippy bikes that you can rip around town on and fold quickly to carry around, but for serious travel, I do think it doesn't work as well as the lower end BFs.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Koffee

  6. #6
    Because I thought I could ks1g's Avatar
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    DG1 - well the Helios SL is mighty tempting! (but maybe a bit beyond the spousal approval zone - maybe she needs a new bike for mother's day? )I need to take it and a few other bikes for a real ride, first. I notice your bike has rear suspension and the light wheels. How rugged are those wheels? I'm not a heavyweight (150 lbs), but I'd be a little concerned about spoke damage. Any comments on how small a suitcase you could use to pack the bike (with removal of wheels/deflate tires, and remove pedals)?

    I'm not worried about needing 21+ "speeds" - as long as the gearing range is wide enough, I'll manage.

    Please try to post a pix of your stem mod (or PM/email me) with close-ups of the stem-post if you can.

    Thanks!

  7. #7
    Because I thought I could ks1g's Avatar
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    Koffee - my quick take is that the BF is more intended for what I'm trying to do; they certainly emphasize pack in a suitcase and go somehwere in their marketing - I don't see much mention of quick-fold and go. Dahon seems more into multi-modal transportation. Either bike will probably do the job. Depends on what I can find and at what price.

  8. #8
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    There is a quick fold component. It may not be advertised, but when I got my bike, they had the video, and it went through the quick fold, and then the folding for the suitcase.

    The BF totally can go either way.

    Koffee

  9. #9
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    Koffee, as I said in my reply, I agree, as an airplane to ground transport, the BF (or the Airnimal) is the better choice. If you're going on the train or a bus and need to fold two or three times a day, there aren't threaded bolt interfaces that'll hold up for long enough. That said, I've already bent up my folding interface once and had to replace the entire bolt set at the hinge, so it's quite possible that the Dahon is vulnerable to a related problem (nothing stripped but I stressed every interface there and there are four seperate planes that all must line up perfectly straight).

    Originator of the thread, I've never tried to put my Dahon in a suitcase so I really can't say whether it'll fit in a case small enough for the air. It woud be very close, but my thought is that you'll probably have to do a little extra disassembly to mke it work. I think that if the air is your main concern, the Bike Friday is the better first choice.

    The Rolf wheels on my bike are extremely strong and have held up very well under my 147-152lb weight. These are great wheels and I recommend them even to BF owners, at least the ones who ride 406 wheels.

    My bike is a 2004 model of the Jetstream XP and came stock with a thing called a 'telescoping handlepost'. The 2005 comes with a fixed post and so, would be much harder to modify in the way mine is modified. If you look at the first photo I posted, there's a blue bolt set on the upper 'handlepost', near to the bers. This used to hold a econd, nesting post inside that you could slide up and down by about a foot. I cut the 2" of the bottom of this and filed out the center until I could fit the quill of a 1" (standard old skool) road stem within it. The quill must have a diagonally cut chuck at the bottom (alot of them have a plug nut that would never tighten to a 1 1/8th" space. You must avoid these.). I used a 3TTT Titanium professional stem

    Here's a few down and dirty photos from the hallway...

  10. #10
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    Here's some more interesting photos of the stem conversion...

  11. #11
    Because I thought I could ks1g's Avatar
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    dannyg1 - thanks for posting those pictures and for your's and Koffee's comments. I like the looks of the Helios line (aside: someone needs to start a separate thread explaining the real differences between, say, Dahon's Helios and Speed models). I like what you did with your handlebar mods. Now I need to make the time to do some more serious test rides and figure out how much I'd really use a transportable bike.

  12. #12
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    I've test ridden both the Dahon Speed 8 and a Bike Friday World Tourist, but just in same parking lot of the same bike shop you undoubtedly went to...isn't it a neat place? They carry Arkel panniers, too, by the way.

    I definitely felt that the BF seemed more solid. It's not that the Dahon was unstable or anything, but the bikes just ride very different. Perhaps it's the weight? I have a 26" Dahon folder, and it folds quickly for the Metro. I would like to get a 20" folder, however, so I'll follow along on this discussion and see how your search goes.

  13. #13
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    There must be a Breezer dealer somewhere close...
    Looks like they've dropped the i7 from their offerings, just the i3 and the itzy now...

    http://www.breezerbikes.com/bike_det...ompact&bike=i3

  14. #14
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    I like the breezers, but to tour on them? Nah.

    Koffee

  15. #15
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    In the original post ks1g said s/he was looking for a folder for light commuting on flat terrain, not for touring.

  16. #16
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    Ok, misslip of the tongue, but I wouldn't pick a Breezer for travel, nor would I use them for anything other than recreational, short tooling around town. I think they ride ok, but a road bike feel? I don't think so. Not as close as a Bike Friday or a Dahan.

    Koffee

  17. #17
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    Another brand to look at for folders. Sun bicycles makes a 20 inch wheel folder in 1 and 3 speed coaster brake versions.

  18. #18
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    Is cost an issue for the folder? If so, BF might be ruled out. It seems like a minimum of $1200-1500 must be spent to have something there. Prices for Dahon seem to be roughly 1/3 to 1/2. I like dannyg's comments - try out the Dahon and then sell it if you think it doesn't suit you, since you won't lose much money.

  19. #19
    Because I thought I could ks1g's Avatar
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    randya - the same LBS has a couple of Breezers as well. I didn't care for them. Still torn between Dahon (I think the Helios SL is calling my name) and a BF.

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